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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

vated all who came in contact with him, had a great effect
upon the natives of Samoa. Their simplicity, picturesque-
ness and fidelity strongly attracted him. and a bond of
affection was welded between them which was only broken
by death. Among them he was familiarly known as
Tusi Tala, the ' teller of tales.5 He took an active part
in local politics. His sense of justice, which had once
before flamed out in passionate indignation against the
wretched maligner of Father Damieii, was keenly aroused
by the conduct of two German officials, Mr. Cedercrantz
and Baron Senfft, and his letters to The Times on their
misdeeds led to their subsequent removal.1 One of his
last undertakings was the unfinished novel, Weir of Her-
miston, a tragic story of the Scottish border, which shows
all the signs of the return of his old power.

The end came unexpectedly, though Mrs.  Stevenson
confesses to have been haunted by a strange foreboding
of approaching ill.    Stevenson's health had lately shown
a marked improvement, and one day in December 1894,
he was sitting on the verandah,- apparently in the best of
spirits, chatting gaily to his wife.    Suddenly, putting both
hands to his head, he exclaimed, * What's that ?'   Then
he asked quickly,  ' Do I look strange ? '  and dropped
senseless at her feet.   He never spoke again.   A blood-
vessel had snapped in the busy, overtaxed brain.   The
same evening, the gallant spirit passed peacefully away
He was only just forty-four.   All night the old Mataa*
chiefs and retainers for whom he had laboured watched ^
body, chanting songs and prayers, and covering with
mats the Union Jack in which it had been wrg^Egd-    >*
day they bore him on their shoulders along the path
which they had hewn through the dense tropical juiglŠ ^°
^his last resting-place on a lofty peak of Mount Vog*-    On
Ms tomb was engraved the epitaph which he himself had
written:

Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie,

Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I lay me down with a will

1 A Footnote to History.